Category Archives: Sermons

All Saints Sunday

All Saints Sunday since the third century has been an important celebration in the Church.  Originally, it was set aside to remember the sacrifice of Christian martyrs.  They were put to death by Roman authorities looking to pin the problems of their crumbling empire on anyone but themselves.  In the early church on All Saints Day they read aloud these martyrs names so they and their sacrifice for the gospel would not be forgotten. Continue reading All Saints Sunday

All Saints Sunday, November 7

It is unlikely that you are an adult in our world and have not been impacted positiviely by someone who has since died. These people encouraged us in our life. Now, they are the saints in heaven encouraging us from beyond. They revealed Christ to us and by their love taught us something about grace.

At Messiah this Sunday, November 7, we give thanks for all the saints that have gone before us. By name we remember those who we said goodbye to as a community. Then, by a beautiful candlelight ritual all of us individually are given an opportunity to remember someone who through their life shared goodness with us. After we light a candle in their name, we will kneel at the altar and feast on the heavenly food, the body and blood of our Lord. Feast with the same food they live on now in heaven, God’s very presence. Wonderful, quiet, reflective music is sung throughout as the lit candles grow and flicker.

All Saints Sunday at Messiah is a highlight of our worship year. Come and share this good gift and bring your family and friends. For, we all have received good gifts by someone who has left us now. Remember them and give thanks this Sunday.
Peace, Pastor Karl

Who sets us free?

I recently visited the famous civil war battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. My wife and I drove around looking at all the monuments and plaques from one of the most famous battles of the war. It’s almost unbelievable to think about how many people were involved in the horrific struggle that divided a nation. You don’t need to be a history major to know that one of the major dividing (maybe the largest) point in the war was over slavery. This issue literally divided a nation. Not just a family or two here and there, but families all across the country were divided. Slavery was on the hearts and minds of people during this time period.

Continue reading Who sets us free?

A Special Reformation Sunday

If you are a dyed in the wool Lutheran you know, next week is Reformation Sunday.  It is the day Protestants traditionally celebrate Martin Luther’s 16th century reforms of the church.  This year at our 11:00 service, we have some special guests that will help us recast Reformation Sunday in a different light.  Our neighbors St. Pius, brothers and sisters in Christ and partners in ministry at Joseph’s Coat, will worship with us.  They are sending their Chancel Choir to join with our own for a wonderful 60 voice choir this day.  Further, their Senior Pastor, Monsignor David Funk will come and lead us in liturgy and prayer.   11:00 next week, October 31 will truly be a good and even historic worship for Messiah.  Don’t miss it.

A Story About Humility

This sermon is based on the parable that Jesus told found in Luke 18:9-14.

We are working hard at Messiah planning for Reformation Sunday which makes the thing that happened here last week almost tragic.  Our Synod office called to announce a contest they are holding for this year’s Reformation Sunday.  They want to crown someone from our churches Most Lutheran 2010 at a special worship service next Sunday night.   They called to ask that we send a bio on our candidate by Friday. Continue reading A Story About Humility

The Tenth Leper

The text for this sermon is the story of Jesus healing the ten lepers, Luke 17:11-19.

For years I was a dock supervisor at Roadway Express.  I worked 12 hour shifts from 7 until 7.  From the moment, I walked on the dock I was working.  Dock men asked me questions.  Managers found me to yell at me about something I hadn’t done the night before.  Other supervisors started shouting for me over the radio as soon as they heard me check in.  I expected to work like a dog from the time I stepped on that dock until I stepped off. Continue reading The Tenth Leper

Noticing Lazarus

This sermon is based on the parable that Jesus told to the Pharisees, Luke 16:9-31.

 Have you seen pictures of the holocaust?  The grainy, black and white gruesome ones of people stacked like cord wood.  Those pictures make your heart ache, but it is still a distant crime.  It isn’t until you read a diary written by a young teenage girl fruitlessly living in hiding for years to avoid this fate does this crime become something that we know and understand.  Each one of these images is a person, like Anne Franke with dreams, talents, annoying behaviors and endearing qualities.  Each one is human.  When that sinks in the enormity of this evil sinks in and we become resolute to do something about it. Continue reading Noticing Lazarus

One Lord of All

Ephesians 4:1-5

4:1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

 My grandfather Karl Michael Hanf was in elementary school when he became a Lutheran.  When his mother and father and their children immigrated to America they were devout Roman Catholics.  When it came time for their only American born son, Karl, a gift of their old age, to enter school, she enrolled him in the parish school where they lived in Toledo.  The priest, who incidentally was not German, angered my great grandmother by insisting on charging her for school books on top of his tuition. She thought this was outrageous.  My grandfather was pulled out of school and immediately enrolled in the German Lutheran parish school nearby.  The Hanfs are Lutheran due to school fees. Continue reading One Lord of All


I remember looking at my schedule my Jr year of college and chill went down my spine. The very first class listed was Greek 101 and it was at 8:00 in the morning Monday-Friday. I just knew this was going to be an awful combination. Not only would I have to learn an ancient foreign language, but I would have to do it at the earliest time possible five days of the week. I arrived to my class the first day half asleep wondering how I will be able to stay awake. However, I quickly realized that there was something different about this professor. He was extremely passionate about Greek, as most people are about the subjects they teach. But it went beyond that, Professor Kumpf was a great storyteller. He went way beyond participles and verbs of ancient Greek by telling interesting tidbits about his days in college or why this verse was his favorite or about his yearly pilgrimage to Greece. He clearly enjoyed being a professor and we loved getting him off on tangents about Alexander the Great. He did the impossible, he actually made an 8:00 Greek class fun. Professor Kumpf stood out as someone who was using the gifts that God has given him to the fullest. He was very clearly called to his vocation as a Greek professor.

Continue reading Vocation

Throwing a Great Party!

This sermon is a consideration of Luke 14:7-14.

Now, I am not judging, but I am guessing that most of you really did not pay attention to the scripture.  The way our worship service is set up, it is difficult.  You just get to hear it read once quickly before the next thing starts, my sermon.  Then human nature kicks in and keeps us from focusing.  Jesus eating, reminds us of the family picnic we are going to this afternoon up in Findlay.  Findlay reminds us of our grandmother’s house, right outside of Findlay in Fostoria.  Fostoria reminds us of a real cool candy store you used to walk to with your cousins when you stayed at grandma’s for a week.  They had sweet and sour Charms suckers.  You can’t get those anymore.  I wonder why not.  Suddenly, the pastor is saying, The Word of the Lord and the congregation responding, Praise to you Oh Christ.  And you are thinking, what, it’s over?  I am not judging.  I have been there, in your place in the pews. I know how it is. Continue reading Throwing a Great Party!